A record 1,152 rhinos in South Africa could become victims of the illegal wildlife trade by the end of the year, according to the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF).
The African conservation group based its projections on the announcement by South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs that 1,020 of the country’s rhinos have been killed for their horns since the beginning of the year, surpassing the 1,004 rhinos killed in South Africa in all of 2013.
AWF recently launched a US$10 million Emergency Response Fund to help stop the killing, stop the trafficking and stop the demand for illegal wildlife products such as rhino horn.
AWF’s emergency initiative has funded the purchase of a helicopter to be used for anti-poaching patrols in South Africa’s Sabi Sands Reserve, which borders Kruger National Park, where the majority of South Africa’s rhinos have been poached.
It is also enhancing security around critical populations of black and white rhino in other areas, including South Africa’s Great Fish River Nature Reserve and the Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary in Kenya’s Tsavo West National Park.
South Africa is home to 83 percent of Africa’s rhinos. Recently the South African National Parks (SANParks) authority announced plans to relocate hundreds of rhinos from poaching hotspots inside the Kruger National Park to other, less vulnerable parks and reserves, both inside and outside of the country.